The Batsford prize submission

Hello reader. The blog admittedly has been quite forlorn of late, and there are many reasons for that, but the most relevant and important reason is that I have been possessed. Yes, possessed with an urge to finally create the Iridescent Alloy I have been dreaming of this whole time. Do you know the feeling, when you know exactly what you want to make, and your fingers are itching to make it so much that you can barely wait for each layer to dry let alone sit and write a coherent thought on the blog? I aimed to create what I imagined just in time for the Impromptu 2.0 exhibit, but I failed. I literally ruined days of hard work at the last minute by making an error that turned out to be fatal for my painting. Then I had to start from scratch all over again. Yup. Good times. Anyway, I’ll share a post on my failure soon, for the purposes of reflection. This post will be dedicated to the one that succeeded. I call it, ‘Within the Self’ in response to the Batsford prize theme of “Being Human”.


look closely
Work in progress
work in progress


And here is the excerpt I sent along with it, which says a little more about how and why this piece came into being:

Human beings–sentient, compassionate, complex. A motley of emotions, thoughts and memories define our humanity; but it is the metaphysicality of ‘Being Human’ that has plagued philosophers and artists from time immemorial. People have always wondered, not only who we are in the context of the universe, but also whether we are at all. Did Hamm, Clov, Nagg and Nell in Samuel Beckett’s ‘EndGame’ exist within a mind or within a post apocalyptic world? And did the truth of it even matter? In Marvell’s ‘A Dialogue between the Body and the Soul’ which was it that granted the human being sentience or were they two disparate entities housed in one person? Would the latter not imply that every cell, every atom, is a being on its own?

“Self under self, a pile of selves I stand

Threaded on time, and with metaphysic hand

Lift the farm like a lid and see

Farm within farm, and in the center, me.” — Norman McCaig

Our worlds revolve around us, yet we exist as a very small cog of a very large and incomprehensible machine. Our lives disappear into the endless chronology of time, yet we consider our morsel of time to be of utmost importance.

Existential questions such as these can lead us down a rabbit hole of frightening incredulity; but in the face of the digital era, where we exist disembodied and eternal in a virtual reality which is, more often than not, entirely different from our actual life, these questions become material. Once upon a time it was the nature of our existence within the cosmos that fascinated us. Now, with rapidly morphing technology, we burrow deeper into the truth about ourselves. Are we what we project onto the internet? Are we the imprints we leave behind? Alarming futuristic dystopias portrayed in “Black Mirror” or the brain-jar, virtual reality world of Brandon Sanderson’s “The Perfect State” seem more and more credible. Faced with all these questions, armed with social media connectivity we consider these age-old existential questions against new backdrops, new challenges, and we turn to introspection, encourage vulnerability and struggle to voice truths about ourselves in the hope of liberation.

This multilayered work was created as a response to the above questions that are brought forth not only by writers and poets and artists, but also by digimodernism, the impact of technology on art and what it means to be human. They consist of a mixed media technique I have developed through the course of my postgraduate study. The initial layer is an acrylic painting on gesso board created from a vivid imagination that has always run amok. I add to it with clay and broken glass to make a motley mosaic, reminiscent of my middle-eastern and subcontinental roots, but not conforming to the typical floral or geometric shapes. The final layer consists of multiple resin and ink pours, drowning the painting, encasing it beneath layers of misty glass, subverting their reality.

Next step- turn this into an augmented reality piece, and we’re one step closer to the final show!

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